SIGDA Pioneering Achievement Award

Presented by the ACM Special Interest Group on Design Automation.
Description: To honor a person for lifetime, outstanding contributions within the scope of electronic design automation, as evidenced by ideas pioneered in publications, industrial products, or other relevant contributions. The award is based on the impact of the contributions throughout the nominee’s lifetime.
Background: The ACM Special Interest Group on Design Automation sponsors or co-sponsors the ACM Transactions on Design Automation of Electronic Systems Best Paper Award, the William McCalla Award for best paper at the International Conference on Computer-Aided Design, and the ACM/IEEE A. Richard Newton Technical Impact in Electronic Design Automation Award which is given to authors of a publication authored at least ten years earlier and that has had an outstanding contribution to the field of EDA. In addition, SIGDA sponsors the ACM Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation Award in Electronic Design Automation which is given each year to a graduating Ph.D. student in recognition of his/her thesis contributions to advancement in the EDA field. The Pioneering Achievement Award complements these awards and is intended for contributors whose impact is typically recognized over a lifetime of outstanding achievements.
Eligibility: Open to researchers in the field of electronic design automation who have had outstanding contributions in the field during their lifetime. Current members of the Board of the ACM Special Interest Group on Design Automation, or members of the Award Selection Committee are ineligible for the award. The awardee is invited to give a lecture at a SIGDA-sponsored event.
Award Items: A plaque for the awardee, a citation, and $1000 honorarium. The honorarium will be funded by the SIGDA annual budget.
Nominee Solicitation: The call for nominees will be published by email to members of SIGDA, on the web site of ACM’s Special Interest Group on Design Automation, and in the SIGDA newsletter. The nomination should be proposed by someone other than the nominee. The nomination materials should be emailed to (Subject: ACM/SIGDA Pioneering Achievement Award). Nominations for the award should include:

  • A nomination letter that gives: a 100-word description of the nominee’s contribution and its impact; a 750-word detailed description of up to 10 of the nominee’s major products (papers, patents, software, etc.), the contributions embodied in those products, and their impact; a list of at most 10 citations to the major products discussed in the description.
  • Three letters of recommendation (not including the nominator or nominee).
  • Contact information of the nominator.

In addition to the evidence of impact, the nomination form will include biographical information (including education and employment), professional activities, publications, and recognition. Three endorsements attesting to the impact of the work may be included.
Award Committee: Selection will be made by the ACM Special Interest Group in Design Automation Executive Committee based on the recommendation of a Pioneer Award committee. The Committee will meet to review nominations, review the recommendations of the Pioneer Award Committee, and make a selection. After selection, the committee will contact the recipient to ensure that the award will be accepted and he or she will be able to deliver the talk at the SIGDA Annual Member Meeting and Dinner at ICCAD.
All standard conflict of interest regulations as stated in ACM policy will be applied (see Any awards committee members will recuse themselves from consideration of any candidates where a conflict of interest may exist.
Schedule: The call for nominees will be published annually. The nomination deadline is Aug 31st. The award will be announced at one or more subsequent SIGDA events and the awardee will be invited to give a talk on his/her work at the SIGDA Annual Member Meeting and Dinner at ICCAD.
Selection/Basis for Judging: This award honors an individual who has made an outstanding technical contribution in the scope of electronic design automation throughout his or her lifetime. The award is based on the impact of the contributions as indicated above. Nominees from universities, industry, and government worldwide will be considered and encouraged. The award is not a best paper or initial original contribution award. Instead, it is intended for lifetime, outstanding contributions within the scope of electronic design automation, throughout the nominee’s lifetime.
Presentation: The award will be presented annually at the SIGDA Annual Member Meeting and Dinner at ICCAD.
Publicity: In ACM/SIGDA publications and at conferences sponsored by ACM/SIGDA.

2022: Ron Rohrer, SMU, CMU
For the introduction and evolution of simulation and analysis techniques that have supported the design and test of integrated circuits and systems for more than half a century.
2021: Prof. Rob Rutenbar, PITT
For his pioneering work and extraordinary leadership in analog design automation and general EDA education.
2020: Prof. Jacob A. Abraham, UT Austin
For pioneering and fundamental contributions to manufacturing testing and fault-tolerant operation of computing systems.
2019: Prof. Giovanni De Micheli, EPFL
For pioneering and fundamental contributions to synthesis and optimization of integrated circuits and networks-on-chip.
2018: Prof. Alberto Sangiovanni Vincentelli, UC Berkeley
For pioneering and fundamental contributions to design automation research and industry, in system-level design, embedded systems, logic synthesis, physical design and circuit simulation.
2017: Prof. Mary Jane Irwin, Pennsylvania State University
For contributions to VLSI architectures, electronic design automation and community membership.
2016: Prof. Chung Laung (Dave) Liu, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan (emeritus)
For the fundamental and seminal contributions to physical design and embedded systems.

2014: Prof. John P. Hayes, University of Michigan

2013: Prof. Donald E. Thomas, Carnegie Mellon University
For his pioneering work in making the Verilog Hardware Description Language more accessible for the design automation community and allowing for faster and easier pathways to simulation, high-level synthesis, and co-design of hardware-software systems.
2012: Dr. Louise Trevillyan, IBM
Recognizing her almost-40-year career in EDA and her groundbreaking research contributions in logic and physical synthesis, design verification, high-level synthesis, processor performance analysis, and compiler technology.
2011: Prof. Robert K. Brayton, UC Berkeley
For outstanding contributions to the field of Computer Aided Design of integrated systems over the last several decades.
2010: Prof. Scott Kirkpatrick, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
On Solving Hard Problems by Analogy
Automated electronic design is not the only field in which surprising analogies from other fields of science have been used to deal with the challenges of very large problem sizes, requiring optimization across multiple scales, with constraints which eliminate any elegant solutions. Similar opportunities arise, for example, in logistics, in scheduling, in portfolio optimization and other classic problems. The common ingredient in all of these is that the problems are fundamentally frustrated, in that conflicting objectives must be traded off at all scales. This, plus the irregular structure in such real world problems eliminates any easy routes to the best solutions. Of course, in engineering, the real objective is not a global optimum, but a solution that is “good enough” and can be obtained “soon enough” to be useful. The model in materials science that gave rise by analogy to simulated annealing is the spin glass, which recently surfaced again in computer science as a vehicle whose inherent complexity might answer the long-vexing question of whether P can be proved not equal to NP.
2009: Prof. Martin Davis, NYU
 For his fundamental contributions to algorithms for solving the Boolean Satisfiability problem, which heavily influenced modern tools for hardware and software verifciation, as well as logic circuit synthesis.
2008: Prof. Edward J. McCluskey, Stanford

 For his outstanding contributions to the areas of CAD, test and reliable computing during the past half of century.
2007: Dr. Gene M. Amdahl, Amdahl Corporation
Award citation: For his outstanding contributions to the computing industry on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Amdahl’s Law.
Video of Dr. Amdahl’s dinner talk and a panel debate are available on the ACM digital library.